Yves Montand plays a high ranking and party loyal Czech politician who suddenly gets arrested. He is kept in isolation for months and is subject to different forms of torture and brainwashing. He is disrupted from peace and quiet in his cell, and deprived of sleep and food. In the end, he’ll confess to almost anything. Because, as the party states, «Confession is the highest form of self-criticism».
The film is inspired by Arthur London’s story and The Slánský Process of 1952, but it also refers to Bresson’s A Man Escaped and Chris Marker’s La jetée. Montand completely immersed himself in the role, losing almost 20 kilos along the way. Montand explained this intensity with an inner motivation, his desire to abandon «the political left (…) who promised people happiness, even if it meant slaughtering them» and to atone for what he himself had believed in.